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What does チャラ mean? It was explained here that チャラ男 means light image. Does that mean cool image of a person? A cool person?

チャラ男とは言動が軽いさまを表す「チャラチャラ」またはこれが形容詞化された「チャラい」を男性名っぽくしたものである(単に「チャラチャラした男」「チャラい男」の略ともいわれる)。

Note: I was actually trying to understand an interview by いきものがかり here.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 11 down vote accepted

chara has several meanings: 1) a lie or joke "chara wo iu", 2) even, zero "kari / hanasi wo chara ni suru". However, chara chara is rather different. Of the various meanings, frivolous and talkative are most relevant.

It is hard to miss out on the chara-phenomenon for those that live in Japan. Especially in 2011, Fujimori Shingo (藤森慎吾) made it into a very popular concept. Rather than chara, it is chara chara "frivolous" and "talkative" which are most defining. It is something that you know when seen, but difficult to define. So I referred to the Wikipedia article on it. It gives several defining characteristics, which seem appropriate:

  • salon-tanned skin
  • brown or blonde-tanned hair
  • always hitting on girls (nanpa)
  • always going to random dinner dates (gōkon)
  • wears various accessories
  • from a girls perspective, charao are: easy to talk with, fun, easy to be with; however, likely to cheat

Men who are like this are charai. Look up 藤森慎吾, who is the representative example of this. In 2011, he also made popular the phrase "kimi mo kawawiiii ne", where kawawii is a contraction of kawaii.

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Nice explanation. I'm a little unclear from your answer on "charai" and "charao", though. Is one feminine and one masculine descriptions of the people with the qualities you outline? –  Dave M G Mar 25 '12 at 1:44
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charai is an adjective. It describes a person who has chara chara behavior. Charao is a noun that is a man who has chara chara behavior. There is no feminine or masculine sense. –  Dono Mar 25 '12 at 1:46
    
なるほど! Thanks for the clarification! :) –  Dave M G Mar 25 '12 at 1:47

At least one meaning of チャラ in modern, perhaps slang, usage is when things are "even" between two people after a debt or obligation has been repaid.

So, just as an example situation, say you bought two drinks for someone, and they gave you a thousand yen. Neither of you is sure if the two drinks cost a little more or less than a thousand yen. But neither of you is bothered about it, so you would say to your friend チャラ to indicate that you consider the payment enough and now you two are even.

Hope that helps.

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そのチャラは別の語です・・・^^ –  Choko Mar 25 '12 at 3:29
    
@Chocolate: Yeah, that's why I said "at least one meaning...". It's different from the "frivolous" definition in the questioner's context, but the definition I provide also exists, and helps people disambiguate. A healthy SE site offers many answers in order to expand information, not get all 厳しい about having one perfect answer. –  Dave M G Mar 26 '12 at 7:54

You have misunderstood what 軽い means when used for a person or behavior of a person. It means something similar to “frivolous,” “giddy,” or “rattlebrained.” So チャラ男 means “rattlebrain,” not a cool person.

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@ito soo a carefree man/boy. –  Nap Mar 25 '12 at 1:36

According to Daijisen, Daijirin and the Yahoo JE dictionary, ちゃらちゃら can mean:

  • The sound of jingling (the sound of something small and metallic clashing against other metallic/hard objects, e.g. coins)
  • Smooth-talking/non-stop talking
  • Lavishing with flattery; in a cheap-looking showy outfit; behaving in a frivolous way

For ちゃら:

  • ちゃらを言う: can mean "random speech"/"saying [something careless/nonsense]"
  • ちゃらにする: can mean "forgive a debt"/"wipe the slate clean"/"go as if something never [happened/existed]"

It looks like they can go away from those definitions a lot though.

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